We always have two mind-sets to choose from: fear-based thinking and Life-centered thinking. Each of these mind-sets has its own distinct logic and view of cause and effect.
Fear-based thinking, as the name implies, is founded on all our fears of what is happening now and what might happen down the road. This mind-set constantly searches for past, current, and future experiences to reinforce its fearful perspective.
This truth guides us to understand and appreciate the difference between fear-based thinking and Life-centered thinking.
Ten Core Thoughts of Fear-Based Thinking:
- Fear is real.
- Fear of what will happen and guilt are good motivations to get better and not give up.
- The negative aspects of my illness will likely repeat and get worse, so they should be resisted.
- The future should be worried about and controlled.
- I am fundamentally alone, and nobody really understands how I feel.
- Being defensive or angry creates safety.
- Figuring out all that is wrong will make me healthy.
- Comparing myself to healthy people is helpful.
- It is important for me to always be right and know what to do.
- Blaming other people will make me feel better.
Ten Core Thoughts of Life-Centered Thinking:
In contrast, Life-centered thinking is based on knowing that we are much more than our bodies and that love and compassion are the most healing of all forces.
Life-centered thinking recognizes the interconnectedness of all life and the lessons that abound in every situation. It is the source of kindness, empathy, healing, and understanding.
- Love is the core of who I am, and Love is not dependent upon the condition of my body.
- Forgiveness, letting go of grievances, is a central part of healing.
- Being completely in the present moment brings renewed energy.
- I can always choose to learn and grow from a health challenge.
- I am, always, a part of all Life.
- Extending compassion is always possible and always results in reducing suffering.
- Accepting "what is" leads to peace of mind.
- Seeing the Love we all share creates healing and wellness.
- Turning to my inner wisdom is important.
- I am responsible for how I react and what I teach.
None of our circumstances, including our health challenges, determine our inner experience. No matter what the circumstances, we are still responsible for our reactions and our peace of mind.
We may not have consciously chosen our physical challenge, but we, and nobody else, are responsible for each and every thought that we have in response to it. We are not robotic computers that have no choice but to react as we're programmed. Our reactions and what we experience depend only on whether we are utilizing fear-based thinking or Life-centered thinking.
I Can Choose A Different Perception of This & A Different Way to Respond
When you are having a challenging time with a particular person or health situation and decide to say "I can choose a different perception of this and a different way to respond," you are directing your mind to shift from fear-based thinking to Life-centered thinking.
Commitment to this shift is necessary to achieve consistent peace of mind, for the two forms of thinking cannot coexist. From one comes a health challenge likely filled with suffering; from the other comes the discovery of freedom.
For many years, I was a person whose life, from an external perspective, was in order. I had a good job and just the "right" amount of material possessions. I had the word doctor before my name. I did not live beyond my means. I had a wife, and we had many friends. Despite all this, even before many of my health challenges, I knew deep down that I had been unhappy and confused most of my life, and that I still was.
Growing up in an alcoholic and workaholic home, I had little parental support. I was the youngest of two children and became the child with the health issues. Because of many of my health challenges, I needed continuous care and energy, though on the inside, I felt overlooked and misunderstood. I was never particularly bad or exceedingly talented at anything. Until college, I always felt that I was average or below and never stood out in any way. All my health challenges and hospitalizations gave me a way to disappear in plain sight, especially in the haze of the drugs that were administered to me.
Letting Go of Fear: Saying Yes to Life and Love
As an adult, as I said yes to Life and Love during my health challenges, I discovered that I had lived much of my life in fear. For as long as I could remember, I had always had a deep feeling of aloneness within me. Even when I was with friends, there was still a part of me that felt alone.
I found that I had always felt lacking in esteem and, in fact, often wanted to apologize for my condition, even my very existence. In all my relationships, I felt very self-conscious. I believed that I was better off keeping people at a certain distance, and I had many ways of doing so. I was a master at hiding while not looking like I was.
Choosing Life-Centered Thinking Brings Peace of Mind: Saying Yes to Life!
By developing my ability to choose Life-centered thinking, I now have more peace of mind than ever. Surprisingly, I now humbly see myself as a person who has a lot to offer the world — I believe each and every person does. I, like you, am valuable and have a core of Love. My existence matters, regardless of my body's symptoms or how long I may be alive.
In short, by determining that Life-centered thinking has value and fear-based thinking does not, I have been able to mostly overcome the sense of aloneness, isolation, and mediocrity that had been with me throughout my life. And my health challenge was what motivated me to choose the Life-centered thinking mind-set. For whatever reason, when our bodies say no, it can be a time to say yes to Life and Life-centered thinking.
* subtitles by InnerSelf
©2012 by Lee Jampolsky, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hampton Roads Publishing Co. Inc.
Dist. by Red Wheel/Weiser, Inc. www.redwheelweiser.com
This article was adapted with permission from:
How to Say Yes When Your Body Says No: Discover the Silver Lining in Life's Toughest Health Challenges by Lee L. Jampolsky.
Psychologist Lee Jampolsky examines how people become overwhelmed, and often unable to cope during a health challenge. He shares his personal health challenges, from spending months in a body cast as a young man to going deaf from an autoimmune disease. He shows how learning to alter one's thoughts and beliefs about health is the key to physical well-being. How to Say Yes When Your Body Says No is filled with meditations and exercises to develop an attitude of openness and healing, no matter what physical and emotional challenges we face.
About the Author
Dr. Lee Jampolsky is a recognized leader in the field of psychology and human potential and has served on the medical staff and faculty of respected hospitals and graduate schools, and has consulted with CEOs of businesses of all sizes. Dr. Jampolsky has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Visit him at www.drleejampolsky.com.